Kaiser Ahmed was born in Bangladesh, but soon moved to Michigan, USA with his family. He went to Chicago in 2004 to join the theatre community, where he thrived as the founding artistic director of Jackalope Theatre Company. The Daily Star catches up with Kaiser for a brief interview.
What made you select this profession at such a young age?
I am an alumni of Columbia College Chicago's Theatre Directing programme, under the mentorship of Sheldon Patinkin. I actually tried out acting before I turned to theatre direction. However, the latter inspired me a lot, and brought out the best in me. I also noticed that older people who are past their prime in acting usually take up this art, so you could say that I was an exception to that trend. Every time I worked as an actor, I subconsciously wanted more control of the entire play. This paved the way for me to eventually become the founding artistic director for Jackalope Theatre.
Tell us about some of your notable work with Jackalope Theatre.
Our productions Washer/Dryer, Vanya (That's Life) and the Jeff nominated 1980 (Why I'm Voting for John Anderson among many other plays are very well-received by the media, along with my input in staging, lighting and other aspects of theatre direction.
You eventually left the post of artistic director in 2011 to become Jackalope's associate director. Why is that?
I feel like if someone holds the same position for a long period of time, the power eventually turns to ego, and that is never good for the troupe itself. We always put the company before individual prowess, and I wanted to keep reinventing myself as a professional. I am also an artistic associate at the Artistic Home Theatre Company since 2005.
Did you get the opportunity to observe the theatre scene in Bangladesh during your visit here?
I wouldn't say I could grasp the situation of the scene, but I will say that the way theatre is run here is vastly different from that in the US. The acting, direction and everything else is a lot more emotive, including a noticeable increase in hand gestures. Back there, we are a lot more subtle when it comes to our themes. I guess that reflects the difference in sentiments of both countries. I would love to try staging a play here if I get the chance to.